Logos are everywhere. They are hung on the sides of buildings, pressed into plastic products, sewn into clothing and emblazoned on the tails of airplanes. As the logo is developed, the designer must present the logo in a wide range of permutations to anticipate an almost unlimited number of uses. When working with a designer, make sure that she provides the final product in all of the categories below.
Black and White (no grey)
Every logo must be designed in black and white with no shades of gray — a “1-bit” execution. A logo that cannot be executed in this manner is unfinished. Many designers start with the black-and-white logo, rather than take a full color logo and reduce it to this form, because it is much easier to add color and shading than to reduce a complex design. Although it may seem simple, this format is critically important. If a logo fails to convey the intended message in black and white, it fails altogether.
This type of logo is often used in product manufacturing and on promotional items which cannot incorporate shading or color variation. A 1-bit logo can be embroidered on fabric, etched on glass and metal, diecut from paper, and pressed into or printed from plastic. As 3D printing becomes more commonplace, this variation of the logo will be used more frequently.
Greyscale logos — 8-bit logos offering 256 shades of a single color — are used in any applications where only one color of ink is available but shading is possible. One of the most common uses is desktop laser printers which print using black toner but can reproduce shading. Greyscale logos are commonly seen in the black-only pages of newspapers and telephone directories.
Don't think of this format as black — a greyscale logo can be printed in any color. When materials need to be printed in only one color, usually to save money, a "spot" color can be used. Spot colors are single colors of ink; an unlimited number of choices are available.
Let's say you donate money to a charity that wants to print your logo on a promotional piece, advertising the donations they received. Your logo might be printed in red ink on white paper, but it could also be printed in silver ink on black paper. For this reason, the logo must look good as a "positive" image (dark on a light background) or as a "negative" image (light on a dark background).
Of course, full color versions of the logo must also be provided. Generally, printed materials create colors using cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks (known as CMYK). Your computer monitor and handheld devices create colors using red, green and blue light (RGB). Therefore, your logo should be provided in CMYK (print) formats and RGB (online) formats.
There is an important consideration here: as the logo is being developed, the colors used should be checked to make sure that every color presented in RGB format looks the same in a CMYK format. There are many colors that work well in one that do not work well in another. A bright green, for example, may look great online but appear muddy in print. Since the public will see your logo in both places, developing your company identity within the limitations of RGB and CMYK color gamut is a critical part of logo development.
In addition to the colors used in the logo, your designer should develop a complete color palette for use in a wide variety of situations. These colors will provide a range of options for designers and internal staff as they develop materials; everything from brochures to web pages to presentations. Colors should be provided in their CMYK and RGB values. If solid Pantone® colors are used, those numbers should be provided as well. If available, chips showing how the colors transform from CMYK to solid color should be included.
Logos are reproduced in very small sizes. You may see a logo discreetly etched into the bottom of a wineglass or engraved into the back of a spoon handle. A tiny version of the logo called a "favicon" (usually the symbol, if available) can appear in the bar at the top of a browser window, reduced to just 16x16 pixels. The IBM logo was reproduced in individual atoms and a Missouri University logo was reproduced on a nano-meter scale surface. Although you may not have to worry about these kinds of cutting-edge applications (at least, not yet) logos must be clearly understood at tiny dimensions.
Of course, logos must also be understood at enormous sizes — on trucks and billboards and the sides of buildings. Logos may be made from thousands of individual people or constructed out of fireworks. They may sail across the sky on a banner pulled by a small plane or hang off the side of a hot-air balloon.
As your designer works with you to provide logo ideas, they must be presented in many sizes to demonstrate how they can be used. The finished product must also be provided in many sizes and formats (see more below) for you to use wherever you have an opportunity.
Tall spaces, wide spaces, square spaces — your logo must fit them all. You may have the opportunity to place your logo in a tall, thin online banner. You may need to place your logo in a wide, short space at the top of a webpage. When your logo design is being developed, horizontal, vertical and square versions of the logo should be developed to allow for any potential use.
Logos should be provided in vector format (EPS). Logos should also be provided in pixel based formats (TIFF, JPEG and GIF) at various resolutions. All formats should be provided in black only, greyscale and both CMYK and RGB.
The original working files (Photoshop and Illustrator are the most common) should also be provided to allow companies to create other formats and sizes as needed.
In some industries, animated logos have become more common — film companies are a good example. If an animated version of the logo is created, it should also be provided in multiple sizes and formats. But be careful here; animation must align with the goals of the application, rather than just "look cool." If people notice the animation but fail to read the page or buy the product, did the animation do its job?
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